Phetchabun national park road proposal put on hold

THE NATIONAL Environment Board has resolved against the Highways Department’s proposal to expand roads in Phetchabun province’s Nam Nao National Park, saying the proposal should be reviewed and other feasible options considered.

Phetchabun national park road proposal put on hold

The board, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, considered the proposal in which the department aimed to expand the road cutting through 40 kilometres of the national park.

The No 12 road is part of a regional route linking Tak’s Mae Sot on the Myanmar border in the West to the edge of the Northeast province Mukdahan, which borders Laos.

The environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the proposal was passed by an expert committee and tabled for the board’s consideration yesterday.

Environmentalists have cried foul, however, saying the section cutting through the park was densely populated by wildlife, including wild elephants, and that there were salt licks used by the animals in a 2km radius.

The activists, including members of the Seub Nakhasathien Foundation, issued a statement opposing the proposal and calling on the board to put it on hold.

They also said that the route was not economical as claimed because of the steep mountainous landscape of the section.

Also, they said the EIA did not disclose details to the public and thus precluded environmental governance. The proposal also went against the previous Cabinet’s resolution to not expand the section, but instead reduce vehicle speed to mitigate impacts at the site, critics said.

A source close to the issue said the board heeded the warnings and had instructed the concerned agency to review the proposal and find other feasible options.

The next meeting is yet to be scheduled.

Road expansion and construction in pristine forests has long been one of the country’s environmental management challenges. Several projects in the past have posted environmental threats to the forest, prompting debate about the costs and benefits of the projects.

Source URL: The Nation